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There are a number of ways you can contact the Gallery to ask any questions about the project or provide your feedback:

Select Sydney Modern Project under ‘area of enquiry’ on the Gallery’s contact form


Sydney Modern Project Team
Art Gallery of NSW
Art Gallery Road
The Domain, Sydney NSW 2000

What is the Sydney Modern Project?

The Sydney Modern Project is the working title for the expansion of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Sydney Modern vision is to create a global art museum for a global city with new and expanded spaces for art in all its evolving forms, along with new opportunities to learn, create, discover and engage. The expansion involves the construction of a new building to the north of the existing and much-loved Art Gallery of New South Wales building. The new and existing buildings will be linked by an outdoor public art garden, including an unenclosed covered entry plaza, which will feature sculpture, installations and landscaping.

What is the next project milestone?

The Department of Planning and Environment is considering all submissions received during the public exhibition as part of its assessment process of the State Significant Development Application. The internal design development of the new building continues to evolve in parallel with the assessment process and with input from a variety of stakeholders. The next project milestone will be determination of the State Significant Development Application in the first half of 2018.

Why does the Gallery want to expand?

The Gallery has not had a significant expansion in more than 30 years and current spaces are working beyond their capacity. Expansion of the Gallery will ensure we can display more art that can be experienced by more people. It will also ensure we can better meet evolving visitor expectations and create a sustainable future for the State’s public art museum, remaining competitive nationally and internationally.

Does the name ‘Sydney Modern’ mean the new Gallery will focus on modern art?

The name ‘Sydney Modern Project’ is the working title for the expansion of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It embodies the vision of the Gallery to become one of the world’s great art museums. The expanded Gallery, together with the new and existing buildings, will be able to display more of the State art collection, showcase more of Australia’s and the world’s best art exhibitions, offer new opportunities for learning and participation, and further develop creative partnerships with galleries, artists, students and communities across the globe.

Is a new building being built or are you extending the existing building?

The Sydney Modern Project will involve the creation of a new landmark building designed by international Pritzker prize-winning architecture and design practice, SANAA, which together with the existing Gallery building will form an expanded Gallery. The new building consists of a series of elegant pavilions which seamlessly merge with their surrounding landscape.

Where will the new building be?

The Sydney Modern Project will enhance the underutilised site to the north of the existing Gallery, comprising two grassed concrete platforms – one being the land bridge over the Eastern Distributor and the other being the roof of disused naval oil tanks.

Will the two buildings be connected?

The new and existing buildings will operate as standalone buildings connected via an outdoor public art garden, including an unenclosed covered entry plaza, which will feature installations, landscaping and sculpture.

Who owns the project site?

The project site is owned by the NSW Government. Its management is split across three State Government entities: the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Roads and Maritime Services, and Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Sydney Modern Project does not impact land within the Royal Botanic Garden itself, and the Gallery continues to work closely with its government colleagues to ensure plans and aspirations for the precinct are aligned.

Can you tell me more about the oil tanks?

Part of the Gallery’s expansion will involve adaptive re-use of disused naval oil tanks that make up part of the project site. Adaptive re-use of these tanks will enable public access to a significant State asset, which has been inaccessible to the public for decades. One of the tanks will be adaptively re-used as gallery space and the other tank converted into back of house and a state-of-the-art loading dock. It will provide NSW with new contemporary art space like no other in Australia.

What are the benefits of an expanded Gallery?

There will be a range of benefits the project will deliver, including:

  • Significantly increase exhibition space to share more of the Gallery’s extraordinary art collection
  • Enable the Gallery to host more of the best and most ambitious art exhibitions
  • Increase visitation to over two million per year, generating wider economic benefit to the New South Wales economy of over $1 billion over the next 25 years
  • Double guided school student visits to over 200,000 per year, providing new dedicated spaces and facilities for learning and participation, with innovative and interactive programs
  • Enhance digital capabilities to expand engagement with all our communities, including artists, cultural organisations, schools, members and visitors
  • Create the nation’s most prominent display of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture
  • Improve access for pedestrians, strengthening connectivity through the precinct with the Royal Botanic Garden, the Domain and Woolloomooloo
  • Become the first five-star Green Star rated public art museum in Australia
  • Create new opportunities for the Gallery’s membership bodies
  • Deliver an architectural landmark in the heart of Sydney’s cultural precinct

What is the artistic vision for the expanded Gallery?

The Sydney Modern Project will build on the Gallery’s long history of innovation and leadership, by boldly celebrating Australian, Indigenous, Asian and international art. Through the connection of art, architecture and landscape the new building will create experiential and responsive art experiences that are in dialogue with reflective art histories presented in the Gallery’s existing building. Together, the two buildings will create a flexible, compelling and inspiring exploration of art and culture, enabling us to embrace a variety of curatorial ideas and learning practices.

How is the project being funded?

The $344 million expansion of the Gallery is being jointly funded by public and private contributions. The NSW Government has allocated $244 million for the project. The Gallery has also developed a private capital campaign to raised $100 million, of which $88 million has already been pledged by private donors. We appreciate the continued support of the NSW Government and our generous benefactors as we realise our expansion.

What is the project cost?

The total cost of the project is $344 million, made up of $244 million NSW Government funding and the $100 million we aim to raise from private donations, $88 million of which has already have pledged by private donors. The project budget covers construction of the new building and limited modifications to the existing building to deliver an expanded Gallery experience.

Can you tell me more about the AGNSW Capital Campaign?

The $100 million being raised from private donations is being referred to as the ‘AGNSW Capital Campaign’. Of the $100 million target, over $88 million has already been pledged by private donors. This includes the $20 million landmark gift from the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation – the largest monetary cash gift in the Gallery’s history and one of the biggest lifetime cash gifts ever received by a gallery in Australia.

Why is the project cost different to the $450 million figure I’ve seen in the media?

The original cost estimate of $450 million included a broader range of upgrades and scheduled maintenance to the Gallery’s existing building. These are now being considered independently to the Sydney Modern Project and the Gallery continues to work with Government on the matter. The total project cost of the Gallery’s expansion is $344 million.

What changes will be made to the existing building and when?

Several modifications will be made to the existing building to ensure we continue to operate efficiently across two standalone buildings and deliver a seamless expanded gallery experience for visitors. Modifications to the existing building will be carried out prior to the opening of the new building in 2021.

Who is the Sydney Modern Project architect?

SANAA, headed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, is a Tokyo-based, multiple award-winning architectural and design firm. SANAA was chosen as the 2010 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, making Sejima the second female to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize. SANAA are working with the Australian firm Architectus as executive architect and a broader consultant team.

Who are the other consultants on the team?

The Sydney-based team includes architectural practice Architectus as executive architect and landscape architects McGregor Coxall. A full consultant team has been working with SANAA and the Gallery to complete the State Significant Development Application. The consultant team includes ARUP, WSP/Atelier Ten and Steensen Varming.

How did you choose the architects?

The Gallery undertook an invitation-only two-stage design competition endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects and the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects. Twelve renowned Australian and international architectural practices submitted design ideas and following an anonymous judging process, five finalists were selected to proceed to the final design stage. The international competition jury unanimously selected SANAA as the preferred design architects.

How has the design concept of the new building evolved?

The design of the new building has evolved since May 2015 as the Gallery has worked closely with SANAA and responded to feedback from stakeholders.

The new building will operate as a standalone building linked to the existing Gallery building via an outdoor public art garden, including an unenclosed covered entry plaza, which will feature sculpture, installations and landscaping. The new building will have a more compact footprint than envisaged in the design competition with significantly reduced built structure on the land bridge. The new building comprises a series of pavilions which follow the topography of the site and are clustered around a central circulation core which will allow visitors seamless access to each floor.

A key principle of the Gallery’s expansion is maximising and enhancing public open space. SANAA’s design creates opportunities for visitors to experience a gallery in new ways with both indoor and outdoor spaces integral to the experience of the new building. New outdoor public spaces including the entry plaza and art garden will be integral to the experience of an expanded Art Gallery of NSW.

How will you protect the Gallery’s heritage and green space around the site?

The heritage and environmental context of the Gallery’s existing building and its location within Sydney’s cultural precinct next to the Domain and Royal Botanic Garden have been key considerations during the evolution of the design concept. A range of sustainability initiatives will also contribute to the Gallery expansion achieving maximum possible environmental outcomes. This includes a five-star Green Star rating under the Green Building Council of Australia’s Design and As-Built rating tool, which will make the Art Gallery of NSW the first public art museum in Australia to achieve this environmental standard.

How will public access and transport throughout the site change?

Precinct-wide discussions are taking place about public access and transport. Current pedestrian access routes from Woolloomooloo to the CBD via the Gallery and the Domain will be maintained and enhanced to enable better and safer universal access. A range of traffic changes along Art Gallery Road are also proposed to improve the public amenity, safety and accessibility across an expanded Gallery and the broader precinct.

Have you consulted with the community about the evolved design?

The design of the new building has evolved since May 2015 as the Gallery has worked closely with SANAA and taken on board feedback from stakeholders. The design will continue to be refined in response to public feedback received as part of the State Significant Development Application and as part of detailed design development in the lead up to construction commencing in 2019. There will be continued opportunities to be part of the conversation and provide feedback as the project progresses.

Will the Gallery close during construction?

We plan to begin construction in 2019. We do not anticipate a need to close the Gallery during construction. If there are any changes to our operations during construction, we’ll ensure we communicate those changes to visitors and the community well in advance to minimise any impacts.

When will the new building open?

We are aiming to complete work by 2021, in time for the 150th anniversary of the Gallery’s founding in 1871.

What happens next? When can I have my say?

All submissions received during the public exhibition of the State Significant Development Application are being reviewed and will be considered as part of the Department of Planning and Environment’s assessment and determination of the Development Application. We would like to continue to hear your views about the project. There will be further opportunities to be part of the conversation as the project progresses. Sign up to our e-news to receive regular updates about the project and activities.

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